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It’s March 8, 2017 at Broad Ripple Magnet High School. A spirited energy fills the air as 21 instrumental and choral ensembles line into the school, ready to perform at the Indianapolis School Music Festival. These ensembles from the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), six middle schools and five high schools, performed for evaluators and participated in clinics. This is the 2nd annual Indianapolis School Music Festival, which commences the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, and gives instrumental and choral ensembles from IPS the opportunity to perform for and learn from notable evaluators and clinicians.

Hosted by the Broad Ripple Magnet High School, principal W. Briant Williams expressed the importance of the relationship between IPS and Music for All, and how Broad Ripple Magnet High School can be the epicenter of these arts opportunities for these students. The participating ensembles have learned valuable lessons that not only improve the group as a whole, but the individual musicians and their directors as well.

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“One of the great things about the Indianapolis School Music Festival is that it gives the students who are in their formative years in their musical journey a chance to become part of a very important process, and be recognized and validated for the hard-work they do in the classroom,” states John Phillips clinician and evaluator.

Furthermore, for these ensembles that come from the inner-city areas of Indianapolis, this festival is the highlight of their year, with some of the ensemble directors expressing the importance of exposing their students to these types of festivals. These students are eager to learn so much from renowned clinicians who have traveled from all over to aide these students in their musical journeys. This is Northwest Community High School band director Christopher Abbey’s 15th year as an IPS band director, and the one thing that keeps bringing him and his ensemble back to the Indianapolis School Music Festival are the kids. “A lot of good kids at IPS get underserved and this is a good place to bring them,” said Abbey.

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With the success of last year’s festival, choral ensembles were introduced to participate this year. Six choral ensembles performed in front of evaluators and received a clinic immediately after. Clinics are a time when a clinician, the ensemble, and director can work together one-on-one, in order for the ensemble and director to better improve their skill-sets. Music for All Choir Coordinator and choral clinician Kim Mann was delighted to share her joy of choral singing with the young musicians and instructors. “The inclusion of choir in this year’s festival broadens the continued advocacy for music education supported by IPS, Music for All, and the Indiana Music Education Association,” said Mann.

The attitude of learning and working hard was ubiquitous. While working with Edison Middle School of the Arts Middle School Choir, clinician Jeff Vallier explained to them that taking their work to the next level was going to come with making mistakes. Aside from the hard work, the students, also had an enjoyable experience. Before each performance, and even during their clinics, there was nothing but enthusiastic attitudes. “We practice hard with our music and we just came here to have fun,” says Northwest Community High School Advanced Band senior saxophone player Jesus Franco. “We hope it goes well, but the most important thing is to have fun.”

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